Review: Coventry Connections – 50 years of Transport Design at Coventry University

Coventry Connections by Nick Hull _9986 2

Car Design News reviews Coventry Connections – 50 years of Transport Design at Coventry University

“When my own career in design started…there was nowhere teaching design that had any slant towards the automotive sector as it was not considered serious design. It was thought to be cosmetic, a titivation of things engineering.” 

The words of Roy Axe, design director of the Austin-Rover Group, as quoted in Coventry Connections – a book which charts 50 years of the Automotive and Transport Design course at Coventry University written and compiled by Nick Hull with help from Andy Plumb.

As projects go, author and subject could not be more closely aligned. A former car designer at Jaguar Land Rover and interior chief at Honda, Hull has taught the course since 2002 and, like others before him, has played a significant role in redressing the power balance between design and engineering. 

Hull and Plumb have told the 50-year story chronologically, but have helpfully broken it down into digestible chunks that encourage the reader to dip in and out of various eras and subjects. Opening up at random, anything from cardboard modelling to student nightlife could greet you from the page. That is not to say the book is without rigour, far from it.

The early chapters detailing the origins of the course, entwined with the redevelopment of the bombed out city itself, make for fascinating reading. The new buildings that emerged from the wreckage of the city to form the new Lanchester College Campus – none more hopeful than Basil Spence’s modernist cathedral – made real the aspirations of a forward-looking local populace that soon pulled in those with equal optimism.  

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